Top Ten Tuesday (5): Top Ten Rewind!!

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week we are all doing a Top Ten Rewind, which is basically picking a theme that you missed in the past.  I am going to go with Top Ten Books I’d Hand to Someone Who Says They Don’t Like to Read. This one was originally done February 7, 2012 and you can see the original post here.

Top 10 Books for “Non Readers”

Finding the perfect book for someone who says they don’t like to read is basically my personal mission in life. I think that there are so many reasons that people THINK they don’t like to read — forced to read material in high school that they couldn’t connect with, buying into the feeling of there being things you “should” read, not reading genre fiction widely enough, and so forth.

I am a really firm believer that there is a book out there for ANYONE but that there is no perfect first book for EVERYONE.  So much depends on the person and what he or she likes or is interested in.  So I hope that this list is a great starting off point, but I know it’s not the end of the discussion! Anyone else have some must reads? Let me know – I’d love to hear them!

If you like ANIME or DISNEY MOVIES, then try…

Lots of people who do not like reading are actually really visual people.  Reading, for some, is not quite visual enough, at least at first.  I think that part of what can help this is reading the right kind of book. I’d suggest one or two of the following:

1.  Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones.  This book actually inspired a 2004 anime of the same name by well-known Studio Ghibli and director Hiyao Miyazaki.  It is a super visual book, with beautiful writing and a fun story about a girl who (no shocker) discovers a floating castle. There are witches and wizards and magic and a tiny hint of love.  Plus, as an added bonus, you could watch the movie (before or after) you read the book!

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2 (and 3 and 4).  Read a graphic novel!  I think a graphic novel is a really excellent entry point into reading, especially for people who are more visual than text based.  There are so many, and I am no expert, so I’d hate to leave anything amazing out.  But I personally have enjoyed Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, an autobiographical retelling of a girl’s life growing up in Tehran; Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff, a swashbuckling adventure tale; and the series Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya, a manga series about a girl and her very interesting new friends that (I think) serves as many people’s formal introduction to reading manga.

persepolis  delilah dirk fruits basket

If you like spending lots of time ONLINE, then try…

5. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  If you are a fan of Internet culture, you cannot help but love Fangirl. This awesome book sits right on the cusp of YA, exploring a girl’s first year at college.  It turns out this girl has a really amazing online presence, but when it comes to so-called “real life,” she is not as invested. Fangirl is the perfect book for anyone, but particularly someone born in the Internet era.

fangirl

6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This book is basically a must-read manifesto for anyone who grew up in the 1980s. There are so many amazing pop-culture references and some super-cool worldbuilding for an evolved society that spends more time online as they do in the “real world.”  This entire story is basically told through a video game and if you grew up in the 1980s, enjoyed Wreck-It Ralph or love gaming, I promise you will love this book.

ready player one

7. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. I think this is a great entry-level science fiction trilogy about a world that is literally spend entirely plugged in — all members of this society are issued a patch to go over their eye that helps them stay in these involved virtual-reality realms at all times. It’s not real, it’s Better Than Real! This isn’t so science-y that it will turn off non-science loving readers, and there is a healthy dose of romance, but there’s a super-strong heroine, a gorgeously rendered world, and some fun science stuff along the way that will keep even the most disengaged reader wondering what is going to happen next.

never sky

If you like BLOCKBUSTER MOVIES like The Hobbit or Spiderman, then try…

8. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce.  This book begins an amazing adventure series wherein a young girl trades places with her twin brothers and goes off to school to learn to become a knight. She has lots of adventures on the road to knighthood and these books just read like an adventure movie.  Even better, the books introduce you to the realm of Tortall, and if you end up loving them, there are many more series in this land waiting for you.

alanna

9. Vicious by Victoria Schwab. This book just reads like a superhero movie.  In this novel, there are people with special powers called EOs (Extra-Ordinaries).  Two of these EOs used to be college roommates and best friends.  But if you know anything about origin stories, that is a perfect recipe for future mortal enemies.  So how did it go so wrong? And who’s the good guy here?! Vicious raises as many questions as it answers about what it means to be good and evil, and whether anything like that even exists.  This is a fun, action-packed read for fans of blockbuster superhero movies.

vicious

10. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson.  Another super-visual book about superheroes gone totally wrong.  In this novel, superheroes, here called Epics, are real and they are using their powers for evil.  They have taken over cities, terrorize “normal” people, and are basically just a force to be seriously reckoned with.  Enter The Reckoners, a band of non-super people who are trying to take back their world and destroy the Epics.  This book is action packed and a must-read for any fan of superhero movies, especially as it turns the superhero ethos on its head – does great responsibility REALLY come with great power?  As a sidenote, I’ve tried to keep most of these recommendations relatively short, since people who don’t like to read can often be turned off by large books. But if that’s not the case, I would definitely also recommend the slightly longer (but slightly better) Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson here.

steelheart

Ok! Those are my recommendations – how about you?  Any go-to books that you push on people who claim not to enjoy reading?  Have you had any successes?  I’d love to know!

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Book Review: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson, illus. Ben McSweeney

rithmatist

Book Summary

From Goodreads: More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings — merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing — kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery — one that will change Rithmatics — and their world — forever.

Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson brings his unique brand of epic storytelling to the teen audience with an engrossing tale of danger and suspense—the first of a series. With his trademark skills in world-building, Sanderson has created a magic system that is so inventive and detailed that that readers who appreciate games of strategy and tactics just may want to bring Rithmatics to life in our world.

Review: 3.5 Stars

Sanderson is quickly becoming one of those authors that I absolutely must read, no matter what. The Mistborn series is one of my absolute favorites, and both The Way of Kings and Warbreaker were right up there as well. All that said, I thought this novel suffered a bit from “dumb it down into YA” syndrome. The characters were predictable and somewhat, if you’ll excuse the pun, two-dimensional. The relationship between the two main characters was more twelve-year-old than sixteen-year-old. And while the world of the school seemed very well-developed, the overall universe was barely explored. But for a map inside the cover of the book, I don’t think I even would have understood the concept. Aditionally, there was a lot of talk about a place barely explored in this novel, and while that does leave a great deal of interest for a sequel, I was left feeling a bit let down that I didn’t get a better picture of the larger forces at work here. We caught glimpses of that complexity, but were not really let in on the whole story here.

However, as usual Sanderson’s strengths lie in his magic system creation and he did not fail us on that one. This magic is like nothing I’ve seen before. The Rithmatists battle using chalk drawings on the ground, using combinations of circles, lines, waves, and little creatures (“Chalklings”). Each chapter began with an illustration and description of a different Rithmatic schema. Since the entire magic system was based on drawings, the illustrations of the novel become an intrical part of the story, and I found myself flipping around in the book to see the various moves being discussed in the book. Because of that, this might be a great entry into reading longer novels for the young teen boys in your life who are into graphic novels.

Bottom Line

While the plot and characters had so much potential, when it came right down to it I didn’t feel like Sanderson’s first entry into YA was as excellent as his other novels. On the plus side, Sanderson’s magic system was, as usual, completely novel and well-developed. The story kept me engaged throughout and had a few interesting twists and turns that I didn’t quite see coming. On the negative side, the main characters had promise, but fell a bit flat. The world of the school was well-developed, but the overall universe left me scratching my head a bit. And overall, it seemed to follow the well-worn path of many YA novels before it of “gifted children at magical boarding school encounter supernatural foe and win against all odds.” I will continue on with this series in the hopes that Sanderson finds his stride and a more unique voice within the YA world, but I am hoping for much more in the next installment.